Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lance Corporal Robert Mininger Posted by Hello

Mr. Rumsfeld rides in a Rhino provided by Halliburton. The Army can't procure them. I don't begrudge Rumsfeld the protection. I just wish soldiers in Iraq and marines there had access to quality protection too. Posted by Hello

Image of differing vehicles mentioned in the Moss NYT article Posted by Hello

Safer Vehicles for Soldiers: A Tale of Delays and Glitches -- NYT by Michael Moss

[bth: this is an excellent article by Michael Moss on vehicular procurement, or lack there of, by the Army and Marines. I'm mentioned near the end of the article.

Take a look also at the article a few links below this one on the blog regarding the marine generals that failed to issue the orders to put steel sitting in Kuwait for months on the bottom of their humvees. This has gone on for months. Meanwhile grunts are being blown up by mines that penetrate the Level 2 armor, not to mention the Level 3 Hillbilly stuff. Level 1 armor makes up only 500 or so of the Marines humvees. It makes one who cares about the grunts in the field want to puke.

Yet no generals are held to account for the persistent screw-ups on their watch. President Lincoln when he was plagued by a wave of bad generals fired them. The only general I'm aware of that had the courage to say anything abut troop levels in contradiction to Rumsfeld got fired for it when he said we would need at least 200,000 troops to occupy Iraq post-conquest.

The NYT article gives one the impression that I support sole-sourcing of armored humvees to the exclusion of other options. That is not correct. I would and continue to support anything the Army or the Marines recommend and can actually field NOW, not seven years from now.

After I learned that the armored humvee plants were running at about 25% capacity in early 2004 despite repeated assurances from Pentagon brass to Congress that the plants were running 24x7, I realized that the brass knew it wasn't true. They just lied. The real issue was money and priorities during an election year. So I decided to put the pressure on the politicians and the military to rectify this problem before the election with full funding for whatever troop protection was available.

Well what was available? The company that made the Cougar had been virtually bankrupted waiting for the Army to place an order which still to date number only in the dozens of vehicles when thousands are needed. The M-1117 ASV is an excellent vehicle but it had been canceled by the Army in its infinite wisdom because the Army wasn't fighting guerilla wars anymore. So production was essentially beginning from a dead stop and at 3 times the cost per unit compared to the M1114 armored humvee. The Strykker was 10+ times the armored humvee's cost and since money was evidently scarce if it existed at all in 2004, this wasn't viable either even if production could be spooled up.

So that left the venerable armored humvee M1114. It wasn't perfect, but it beat a cotton t-shirt and it had the twin advantages of being cost-effective and in rampable production now. All it needed was money which the Pentagon was diverting and not spending on troop protection measures unless it was embarrassed before the American public. So I embarrassed it, pressured, cajoled, whatever it took along with hundreds of other military families and national guard families. There comes point when you realize that the military had no plan to fight an insurgent war. At that point you realize that the generals are simply scared or impotent to address the problems of a quickly changing situation with Rumsfeld at the helm. One can't imagine Gen. Marshall acting like this bunch does, but there it is.

Still as things stand, the vehicular production levels are weak. The armored humvee production plant barely has orders to keep it running through the fiscal year. The army says they don't need any more. The marines are only ordering enough to cover their attrition rate though its Inspector General's report on page 10 says that they will need to increase their orders which they haven't. And no one is thinking about what we need to armor the Iraqi Army with if we withdraw. They will need our vehicles as there are no others available. Anyone can see that, but no one wants to talk about it because it means that this war will cost a lot more to finish than to start.

In my opinion given the Iraqi army's need a year or two out, our needs now for fully armored M1114s or better and for the obvious attrition occurring in Iraq to the entire land fleet, I'm convinced that our next step should be to produce at least another year M-1114s at full capacity at O'Gara-Hess and bring the M1117 ASV and the Cougar to much higher volumes of production now and sustain the production instead of adjusting it incrementally which maximizes our cost and minimizes our production potential. Worst case, we give these new units to the US National Guard when the Army comes up with a better vehicle. In the meantime, it doesn't make much sense to train Iraqi Army soldiers and then put them in the back of an unarmored Nissan pick-up truck were they are killed by the score on a daily basis. ... Well sorry I got carried away. Here is Michael Moss' article in full.]


June 26, 2005

Safer Vehicles for Soldiers: A Tale of Delays and Glitches


When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Iraq last year to tour the Abu Ghraib prison camp, military officials did not rely on a government-issued Humvee to transport him safely on the ground. Instead, they turned to Halliburton, the oil services contractor, which lent the Pentagon a rolling fortress of steel called the Rhino Runner.

State Department officials traveling in Iraq use armored vehicles that are built with V-shaped hulls to better deflect bullets and bombs. Members of Congress favor another model, called the M1117, which can endure 12-pound explosives and .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds.

Unlike the Humvee, the Pentagon's vehicle of choice for American troops, the others were designed from scratch to withstand attacks in battlefields like Iraq with no safe zones. Last fall, for instance, a Rhino traveling the treacherous airport road in Baghdad endured a bomb that left a six-foot-wide crater. The passengers walked away unscathed. "I have no doubt should I have been in any other vehicle," wrote an Army captain, the lone military passenger, "the results would have been catastrophically different."

Yet more than two years into the war, efforts by United States military units to obtain large numbers of these stronger vehicles for soldiers have faltered - even as the Pentagon's program to armor Humvees continues to be plagued by delays, an examination by The New York Times has found.

Many of the problems stem from a 40-year-old procurement system that stymies the acquisition of new equipment quickly enough to adapt to the changing demands of a modern insurgency, interviews and records show.

Among other setbacks, the M1117 lost its Pentagon money just before the invasion, and the manufacturer is now scrambling to fill rush orders from the military. The company making one of the V-shaped vehicles, the Cougar, said it had to lay off highly skilled welders last year as it waited for the contract to be completed. Even then it was paid only enough to fill half the order.

And the Rhino could not get through the Army's testing regime because its manufacturer declined to have one of its $250,000 vehicles blown up. The company said it provided the Army with testing data that demonstrate the Rhino's viability, and is using the defense secretary's visit as a seal of approval in its contract pitches to the Defense Department.

Many officials in the military and the government say the demands of war sometimes require the easing of procurement requirements like testing, and express frustration at the slow process for getting equipment.

"When you have troops in the field in a dynamic environment, where the tactics of the opposition are changing on a regular basis, you have to be nimble and quick," said Representative Rob Simmons, a Connecticut Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "If you're not nimble and quick and adaptable, people will die."

Nearly a decade ago, the Pentagon was warned by its own experts that superior vehicles would be needed to protect American troops. The Army's vehicle-program manager urged the Pentagon in 1996 to move beyond the Humvee, interviews and Army records show, saying it was built for the cold war. Its flat-bottom-chassis design is 25 years old, never intended for combat, and the added armor at best protects only the front end from the heftier insurgent bombs, military officials concede.

But as the procurement system stumbled and the Defense Department resisted allocating money for more expensive vehicles, interviews and records show, the military ended up largely dependent on Humvees - a vast majority of which did not yet have any armor - in both combat and noncombat operations in the war.

Today, commuting from post to post in Iraq is one of the deadliest tasks for soldiers. At least 73 American military personnel were killed on the roads of Iraq in May and June as insurgent attacks spiked. In May alone, there were 700 bombings against American forces, the most since the invasion in March 2003. Late Thursday, a suicide car bomber killed five marines and a sailor in a convoy of mostly female marines who were returning to camp in Falluja. Thirteen others were injured. Officials said the vehicles most likely included a seven-ton truck.

Last winter, 135 convoys were attacked on the Baghdad airport road alone, and even the most fully armored Humvee is no longer safe from the increasingly powerful insurgency bombs.
Marine Corps generals last week disclosed in a footnote to their remarks to Congress that two of their best-armored Humvees were destroyed, while a Marine spokeswoman in Iraq said five marines riding in one such Humvee were killed this month in a roadside bomb attack.
Still, thousands of Humvees in Iraq do not have this much protection.

The Pentagon has repeatedly said no vehicle leaves camp without armor. But according to military records and interviews with officials, about half of the Army's 20,000 Humvees have improvised shielding that typically leaves the underside unprotected, while only one in six Humvees used by the Marines is armored at the highest level of protection.

The Defense Department continues to rely on just one small company in Ohio to armor Humvees. And the company, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, has waged an aggressive campaign to hold onto its exclusive deal even as soaring rush orders from Iraq have been plagued by delays.

The Marine Corps, for example, is still awaiting the 498 armored Humvees it sought last fall, officials told The Times.

In January, when military officials tried to speed production by buying the legal rights to the armor design so they could enlist other venders to help, O'Gara demurred, calling the move a threat to its "current and future competitive position," according to e-mail records obtained from the Army.

Defense Department officials defended their efforts in supplying troops with armored vehicles, saying they have managed to convert a largely unarmored fleet into one in which every vehicle in combat has some level of shielding.

"We are constantly assessing and making the necessary adjustments to make sure they have the best possible protection this country can provide," said a Pentagon spokesman, Bryan G. Whitman, adding that no amount of armor would defeat the insurgency's biggest bombs. He said Mr. Rumsfeld had ridden in many types of vehicles, including Humvees, and "travels in whatever vehicle the commander feels is appropriate."

The Defense Department created a task force last winter that is charged with revamping its entire fleet of light vehicles, including the Humvee.

Some say these efforts, however resolute, will suffer if the Pentagon does not also overhaul its underlying procurement system.

"There's been a confluence of factors that colluded to keep this system hidebound," said Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon's comptroller until May 2004. "It's going to take a joint effort by Congress and the executive branch working in good faith, and I underline good faith, to bring about a change."

Old Problems, New Details

By the time an Army National Guard member complained to Mr. Rumsfeld in December that troops were still scrounging for steel to fortify their Humvees, the Pentagon's troubles with armoring vehicles had been years in the making.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of insurgencies more than a decade earlier had changed the dynamics of war for American troops. The problem came into bloody relief in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 when militia members cornered and killed 18 American soldiers who were trying to capture a warlord's top assistants using Black Hawk helicopters and unarmored Humvees.

At an Army command center in Warren, Mich., John D. Weaver saw the events unfold and set out to revamp the light-vehicle program that he managed.

One option came from executives at O'Gara, who proposed adding the extra steel shielding to Humvees. Mr. Weaver praised the effort but foresaw some flaws, he said in interviews.
Because the Humvee's hull is flat, its underbelly absorbs the force of blasts more readily than combat vehicles with angled bodies.

Moreover, the chassis can carry only so much armor, leaving the rear more exposed.
And while land mines were the biggest threat at the time, Mr. Weaver said his group began worrying about a more insidious one: a fragmentation mine called the M-18 Claymore.

Developed by the United States for the Vietnam War, the device can be remotely detonated to hurl its 700 steel spheres at any part of a passing vehicle - much like the improvised devices that insurgents are using in Iraq.

That means the armored Humvee is vulnerable to a timed attack that focuses on its underbelly or rear, Mr. Weaver said. Its box shape also makes it less able to deflect low-flying bullets.
"We need to invest more in the details of the design, to integrate state-of-the-art material, which, while costing more, weighs less and provides greater levels of protection," Mr. Weaver wrote in a paper presented to the Army's 1996 armor conference at Fort Knox, Ky. "Finally, we must overcome the paradigm that wheels are cheap and 'throw away.' The vehicle may be, but the occupants are not."

By 1997, when Mr. Weaver left his post, he was helping draft an Army mandate requiring new vehicles like the M1117. "I'm not sure anybody got their arms around what was needed," he said.

By 1999, the Army began buying a limited number of M1117's. Three years later, it canceled the program.

At roughly $700,000 each, the M1117 is considerably more expensive than the current $140,000 price for an armored Humvee.

"This decision is based upon budget priorities," Claude M. Bolton Jr., an assistant Army secretary, wrote to Congress in 2002. Existing vehicles, he added, can be used instead "without exposing our soldiers to an unacceptable level of risk."

Yet the military was reluctant to mass-produce the armored Humvee, with many in the Army agreeing that the vehicle made little tactical sense.

By the time the Iraq war started, the Army had been ordering only 360 armored Humvees a year.

"We never intended to up-armor all the Humvees," said Les Brownlee, who was the acting Army secretary from 2001 until late last year. "The Humvee is a carrier and derives its advantage from having cross-country mobility, and when you load it down with armor plating, you lose that."

But just months into the war in Iraq, it was lives the Pentagon was losing, and it reached for the quickest solution.

Clinging to a Contract

What the Defense Department thought would be the easiest option turned out otherwise.
The Humvee chassis is rapidly made on a vast assembly line near South Bend, Ind., by AM General. But before its vehicles can be rushed to Iraq, they are trucked four and a half hours to O'Gara's shop in Fairfield, in southern Ohio - which had 94 people armoring one Humvee a day when the war began. There, the Humvees are partly dismantled so the armor can be added.
"Clearly, if you could have started from scratch you wouldn't be doing it that way," Mr.

Brownlee said in a recent interview.

In February 2004, Mr. Brownlee visited the O'Gara plant and asked the company to increase production, gradually pushing its monthly output to 450 from 220 vehicles. The Defense Department also wanted to contract with other companies to make armor.

Determined to hold onto its exclusive contract, O'Gara began lobbying Capitol Hill. Among those it drew to its side was Brian T. Hart, an outspoken father of a soldier who was killed in October 2003 while riding in a Humvee. Early last year, as a guest on a national radio show, Mr. Hart urged the Pentagon to involve more armor makers. Two weeks later a lobbyist for O'Gara approached him.

"He informed me that the company had more than enough capacity," Mr. Hart says. "There was no need to second-source."

Mr. Hart then redirected his efforts to help the company push Congress into forcing the Pentagon to buy more armored Humvees. With support from both parties, the company has received more than $1 billion in the past 18 months in military armoring contracts.

Meanwhile, the Army did not give up on trying to speed production by involving more armor makers. Brig. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said several armor companies were eager to be part of a plan to produce armored Humvees entirely on AM General's assembly line.

In January, when it asked O'Gara to name its price for the design rights for the armor, the company balked and suggested instead that the rights be placed in escrow for the Army to grab should the company ever fail to perform.

"Let's try this again," an Army major replied to the company in an e-mail message. "The question concerned the cost, not a request for an opinion."

The Army has dropped the matter for now, General O'Reilly said, adding that he hoped to have other companies making armor by next April.

Robert F. Mecredy, president of the aerospace and defense group at Armor Holdings, the parent company of O'Gara, acknowledged that the company was protecting its commercial interests. But, he said, the company has proved it can do the Humvee work and he blamed the Defense Department for delays. Military officials concede that it sometimes took months for requests made in Iraq to filter through the Defense Department. O'Gara says it has armored nearly 7,200 Humvees since the war began, and while there is a persistent need for more in Iraq, the company stresses that the Pentagon keeps changing its orders: from 3,600 in the fall of 2003 to 8,105 last year to more than 10,000 today.

Asked why the Marine Corps is still waiting for the 498 Humvees it ordered last year, O'Gara acknowledged that it told the Marines it was backed up with Army orders, and has only begun filling the Marines' request this month. But the company says the Marine Corps never asked it to rush.

The Marine Corps denies this, but acknowledges that it did not get the money to actually place the order until this February. Officials now say they need to buy 2,600 to replace their Humvees in Iraq that still have only improvised armor.

Beyond the Humvee

With insurgents using increasingly powerful bombs and bullets, American troops in Iraq have been looking beyond the Humvee.

When the Marine Corps returned to Iraq last year, it settled on the Cougar as a superior vehicle to perform one of its main jobs: searching the roads for improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s.

The Cougar can take more than twice the explosive punch as the armored Humvee and deflect .50-caliber armor piercing bullets. British troops had used the vehicle during the invasion.

The Marines used a new ordering method called the Urgent Universal Need Statement, which allows it to skip competitive bidding, to speed the process, officials said.

Even at that, the Marines Corps took two months to complete a product study, its records show. The contract took two more months to prepare. By then, one of its units in Iraq, Company E of the First Marine Division, was suffering the highest casualty rate of the war; more than half of the 21 marines killed were riding in Humvees with improvised armor or none at all.

When the Cougar order was completed in April 2004, the Marine Corps got only enough money from the Iraq war fund to buy 15 of the 27 Cougars it wanted. "This start-stop game is driving everybody nuts," Michael Aldrich, an executive with the Cougar's maker, Force Protection, said in a recent interview.

Marine Corps officials, who have high praise for the Cougars they have, said they needed to move cautiously for fear of overwhelming the company, which had only 39 workers. It now has 250 and is racing to fill a new order for 122 Cougars, at $630,000 apiece, by next February.
"I think we are moving about as fast as we could move," Mr. Aldrich said. "It's the chicken and egg. If you don't have the order you can't make the investment, and there are extremely long lead times" on the components.

Wars are always tricky affairs for military contractors that are asked to ramp up overnight. But for this and other makers of armored vehicles, the Iraq war has been especially challenging.
To get Congress's attention last year, Mr. Aldrich compiled maps that showed the number of troops from each state who had died in Iraq in vehicles that were inadequately armored.

"I got some very open pupils and a couple of gasps and a couple of questions on who I had showed this to," said Mr. Aldrich, who presented his findings during the fall election campaign when the issue of equipping troops became a focus of intense debate. "The Republicans wanted to know if I showed it to the Democrats, and the Democrats wanted to know if I showed it to the Republicans."

The M1117, made by Textron in Louisiana, had advocates in that state's senators, who told Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, in a September 2003 letter that the vehicle was superior to the armored Humvee in blast and bullet protection.

Still, the M1117 did not shake off its 2002 cancellation until last summer, when the Army began placing a series of orders totaling 290. The company, which will make 16 vehicles this month, has been asked to more than triple that pace by next March, Textron officials said.
Labock Technologies, which makes the Rhino Runner in Israel, thought it had the best advertising ever. Besides posting photographs of Mr. Rumsfeld aboard the Rhino at Abu Ghraib, the company has pictures of a shackled Saddam Hussein going to court last summer, with the headline: "So safe. ... some V.I.P. won't ride anything else."

The Defense Department says some military personnel are using the privately owned Rhinos that run the gantlet of bombs on the airport road. But with the Army not accepting the company's test results, and Labock not wanting to destroy a Rhino on the chance of getting orders, some soldiers in Iraq are doing their own lobbying.

Last month, the company says, an Army colonel and two other soldiers at Camp Victory in Baghdad picked up a satellite phone and called Labock at its Florida office to pepper the company with questions about performance, price and how fast it could deliver.

Mark Dunlap, a company executive, said in recounting the exchange, "They said they would run it up their chain of command."

Video of IED strike on vehicle

Here is a video of an VBIED strike on a convoy vehicle from inside the vehicle.

Shadow of boy in blood of car bombing victims near Shi-ite district of Baghdad, June 05 Posted by Hello

Briefing on Improvised Explosive Device attacks in Iraq

Here is a briefing prepared by Major. Eric Estep entitled "Enemy Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and Recommendations". It is an excellent overview of IEDs and enemy tactics in ambushing allied convoys. I highly recommend reviewing it.

April 1965 Posted by Hello

Russia: Militants tried to steal nukes

"MOSCOW, Russia (UPI) -- Russia`s head of nuclear arsenal safety says terrorists, whom others say were Chechen militants, have tried twice to steal nuclear weapons.

Col. Gen. Igor Valynkin said the thieves had tried in 2002 and 2003 to break intonuclear warhead warehouses, Britain`s Independent newspaper reported.
In both cases, he said, the men were intercepted by security forces and arrested. He did not identify them, but official sources have been quoted in the Russian media that they were Chechens.

Valynkin said Chechen separatists posed the greatest threat to Russia`s nuclear arsenal. \'We get special information about their plans regarding our nuclear facilities ... and we use this information to urgently take the necessary security measures at the facilities concerned,' he said."

[bth: Protecting unprotected nukes in Russia is probably the single most important thing we can do in the war on terror. IMHO.]

On a mission Posted by Hello

Marine Generals sat on the purchase orders for underchassis armor for over 2 months. Posted by Hello

Soldiers for the Truth- Generals Who Admit ‘Lack of Leadership’ Should Be Fired

"...Now we have the Nyland�Catto duck-and-weave show, where Gen. William 'Spider' Nyland, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and his one-star lackey, Brig. Gen. William Catto, the chief of Marine Corps Systems Command, confessed with straight faces to the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the lack of armored Humvees was due to 'lack of leadership' -although they assured the committee that their same lousy leadership would somehow make sure the Humvees and military trucks that the Marines used in Iraq 'would be adequately protected by December.'

Their testimony dovetailed with the release of a damning Marine Corps Inspector General report this week -obtained from sources by SFTT -that reveals the overall deterioration of Marine ground equipment due to the high optempo in Iraq.

For a Marine general to admit such a crummy leadership failure costing the lives of Marines in combat and somehow keep his command is probably the most twisted Beltway stunt since Pentagon hypesters sucked The Washington Post into publishing their public relations spin on Pfc. Jessica Lynch fighting 'to the last bullet.'

If Nyland and Catto truly accepted personal responsibility for a failure of leadership which led to the deaths of their Marines, they had one, and only one, honorable course of action -to walk the plank and resign their commissions. A painful trip that would have meant kissing their generous pensions and juicy revolving-door perqs goodbye.

The silence from Marine Commandant Mike Hagee's office on this matter merely underlines that Nyland and Catto were playing the 'take responsibility' ploy with his approval -and a gullible news media once again bought into a Pentagon con that let the perps prevail."...

Are you doing all you can? Posted by Hello

Musharraf: Bin Laden Tips Welcome

"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's president said Saturday there were no authentic reports on the whereabouts of Usama bin Laden (search), and anyone who believed the Al Qaeda chief was in his country should give his location.

The comments by Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) came more than a week after U.S. Ambassador for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad claimed that bin Laden and fugitive Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar were not believed to be in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad did not say where the two were believed to be hiding.
'There are a lot of people who say that Osama bin Laden is here in Pakistan,' Musharraf told reporters in Islamabad before leaving for an official visit to Saudi Arabia. 'Please come and show us where he is or tell us where he is. We will act on such information.

'He [bin Laden] could be anywhere.'"...

What have you done for them today? Posted by Hello


"Baghdad, 23 June (AKI) - US Marines have found manuals on taking hostages and decapitation during a raid on a guerrilla hideout in the Iraqi village of Karabla, near the town of Qaim, close to the Syrian border. The Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that in the hideaway the troops also found several hostages who were being held there by Islamic militants. The hiding place was being used as a centre for the interrogation and torture of hostages, and contained electrodes and other instruments of torture.

The manuals found were used as Jihad (Holy War) handbooks. The first was titled: 'How to choose the best hostage', the second covered decapitation and was called: 'Rules for cutting off the heads of infidels', and the third manual, 'principles of the philosophy of the Jihad', was more theoretical."...

Lance Corporal Holly Charette, 21 of Rhode Island, killed in Fallujah, June 05 Posted by Hello

INTEL DUMP - -Will the tail wag the dog?

[bth: this is worth a read if you are interested in how the US might reduce its force requirements in Iraq.]

INTEL DUMP - -: "...When asked to predict when the U.S. military would experience a meltdown, my answer was 'never'. Simply, the generals and senior civilians in the Pentagon won't let that happen. I believe that the U.S. military will preserve itself rather than let the war tear it apart.

What does this mean in practical terms? Simple. Over the next year or two, you are going to see an increasing amount of effort being applied to 'Iraqification'. We are going to devote more and more troops to getting their security forces 'trained and ready', such that we can draw down our forces and hand over the country. The building of Iraqi forces is the key task for the U.S. in establishing a new and stable government in Iraq.

Further, I think the U.S. government may subtly and secretly push the Iraqi government to 'request' the U.S. draw down its force presence. This will, of course, help the Iraqis establish their sovereignty by letting them flex their muscles a bit; it will also help them appease the Iraqi population would like to see us go soon too. And, of course, it will work to our benefit as well, since our force does not have much the capacity to remain in Iraq beyond 2006. At the extreme end of the spectrum, it's possible to imagine the Iraqis booting us out of the country in a fit of sovereignty, perhaps just after the new Constitution is adopted. I wouldn't be surprised if this ejection was engineered by the U.S. behind closed doors. Assuming the Iraqis are ready to their own security when the U.S. leaves, such a move would be win-win for everyone. The Iraqis would get their country back; the U.S. would get 'mission accomplishment' � and a way out of Iraq.

I still remain quite concerned about the military manpower and force structure issues in Iraq. Assuming we remain on course, we will see a military manpower meltdown in 2006, starting in "

First on the scene Posted by Hello

Izat Al-Douri''s father-in-law arrested in Kirkuk ...6/24/2005

"BAGHDAD, June 24 (KUNA) -- The Multi-National Forces (MNF) in Iraq arrested the father in law of the deputy president in the toppled Saddam Hussien regime Izat Al-Douri's and three of his personal guards in Kirkuk, a Kirkuk police station source said.

The source said that MNF troops arrested Sheikh Sufyan, Izat Al-Douri's father-in-law, and three of his bodyguards during a search in Kirkuk. The exact area of the arrest was not announced while the sources pointed out that Sufyan is being questioned by MNF officials at Kirkuk Airport.

Furthermore, Al-Hayat newspaper cited Friday sources close to armed groups that Al-Douri got re-married after the over-throw of the Saddam Hussien regime and had a baby daughter, his 11th child, whom he reportedly named Tahrir (liberation).

Al-Douri has 10 children from previous marriages, and has visited his wife in Mosul after her delivery, Al-Hayat said.

The paper added that Al-Douri, who is in good health, has wide connections inside and outside the country that provide financial and political support for him and various armed groups. (end) mhg."

[bth: this guy is leading Iraqs insurgents yet he has time to get remarried at 61, have an 11th kid, visit his wife at the hospital in Mosul and so on. Our intel must really stink]

KIAs from home-made bombs Posted by Hello

Three Things About Iraq - New York Times

"To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts:

The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11. Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of Washington, but there was no Iraq-Qaeda axis, no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks on the United States. Yet the president and his supporters continue to duck behind 9/11 whenever they feel pressure about what is happening in Iraq. The most cynical recent example was Karl Rove's absurd and offensive declaration this week that conservatives and liberals had different reactions to 9/11. Let's be clear: Americans of every political stripe were united in their outrage and grief, united in their determination to punish those who plotted the mass murder, and united behind the war in Afghanistan, which was an assault on terrorists. Trying to pretend otherwise is the surest recipe for turning political dialogue into meaningless squabbling. "

The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism. The breeding grounds for terrorists used to be Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia; now Iraq has become one. Of all the justifications for invading Iraq that the administration juggled in the beginning, the only one that has held up over time is the desire to create a democratic nation that could help stabilize the Middle East. Any sensible discussion of what to do next has to begin by acknowledging that. The surest way to make sure that conversation does not happen is for the administration to continue pasting the "soft on terror" label on those who want to talk about the war.

If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan. Progress has been measurable on the political front. But even staunch supporters of the war, like the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a hearing this week that President Bush was losing public support because the military effort was not keeping pace. A top general said this week that the insurgency is growing. The frequency of attacks is steady, or rising a bit, while the repulsive tactic of suicide bombings has made them more deadly.

If things are going to be turned around, there has to be an honest discussion about what is happening. But Mr. Rumsfeld was not interested. Sneering at his Democratic questioners, he insisted everything was on track and claimed "dozens of trained battalions are capable of conducting anti-insurgent operations" with American support. That would be great news if it were true. Gen. George Casey, the commander in Iraq, was more honest, saying he hoped there would be "a good number of units" capable of doing that "before the end of this year."

Americans cannot judge for themselves because the administration has decided to make the information secret. Senator John McCain spoke for us when he expressed his disbelief at this news. "I think the American people need to know," he said. "They are the ones who are paying for this conflict."

night vision Posted by Hello

Iraqi police find bodies of eight beheaded men

"Iraqi security forces discovered the bodies of eight beheaded men Friday in two villages north of Baghdad, army officers said.

Six of the bodies belonged to Shiite farmers taken from their home in Hashmiyat, 10 miles west of Baqouba, by an armed group wearing Iraqi army uniforms late Thursday, army Capt. Hashim Amer said. ..."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Another Year of Living Misery in Baghdad

... "Nearby, a scruffy young man in dirty pants and an unbuttoned shirt stood staring at vegetables scattered on the ground by one of the explosions. Bending over and picking up an onion spattered with blood, he began to cry.

'Every one of you in Karrada calls me Crazy Ali,' he said to no one in particular. 'But I would never do such a thing. I am better than you sane people. At least I do not hurt you.'"

Sea Knight in Operation Spear Posted by Hello

Troops fear support is dwindling

"The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East warned Thursday that troops are questioning whether the public supports the Iraq war and implored political leaders to engage in a frank discussion about how to keep the country behind a mission that the armed forces believe is 'a war worth fighting.'

Army Gen. John Abizaid said that without that support, the military's ability to prevail against Iraqi insurgents and Islamic extremists will be at serious risk.

'When I look back here, at what I see is happening in Washington, within the Beltway, I've never seen the lack of public confidence greater,' Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he testified along with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. George Casey, the commander of coalition troops in Iraq."...

[bth: interesting article. I heard the hearings. They were very intense. The article also references Sen. Byrd waving the constitution etc., The articles barely do the debate justice.]

Rumsfeld at Senate Armed Services Committee June 23, 2005 shows elected officials his respect Posted by Hello

Rumsfeld Under Fire On the Hill

"...In the day's most dramatic confrontation, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a leading critic of the Iraq campaign, told Rumsfeld that the war has become a 'seeming intractable quagmire.' He recited a long list of what he called 'gross errors and mistakes' in the U.S. military campaign and concluded with a renewed appeal for Rumsfeld to step down.

'In baseball, it's three strikes, you're out,' Kennedy said before a standing-room-only session of the Armed Services Committee. 'What is it for the secretary of defense? Isn't it time for you to resign?'

Rumsfeld paused, appearing to collect his thoughts and composure.

'Well, that is quite a statement,' he responded, adding that none of the three four-star generals seated with him 'agrees with you that we're in a quagmire and that there's no end in sight.' Indeed, each of the officers -- Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf; Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq; and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- then affirmed as much.

Rumsfeld also noted that he had offered to resign twice and that President Bush decided not to accept the offers -- a reference to a period in the spring of 2004 when evidence of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad became public.

But Republicans as well as Democrats joined in calling Rumsfeld's attention to signs of declining public support for U.S. involvement in Iraq.

'I'm here to tell you, sir, in the most patriotic state that I can imagine, people are beginning to question,' said Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). 'And I don't think it's a blip on the radar screen. I think we have a chronic problem on our hands.'"

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) warned, "I fear that American public opinion is tipping away from this effort."

If there is such tipping among Americans, Rumsfeld allowed, "I have a feeling they're getting pushed" -- an apparent reference to unfavorable news coverage and political commentary. Rumsfeld expressed confidence that support would rebound.

Abizaid, in turn, voiced concern that U.S. troops are becoming aware of the drop in public support and are asking him "whether or not they've got support from the American people."

Abizaid noted that while confidence among U.S. forces in the field "has never been higher," the political mood in Washington appears strikingly different. "I've never seen the lack of confidence greater," he said....

Rumsfeld agreed with the need for staying on schedule, saying he opposed even invoking the six-month extension allowed under existing Iraqi law. Any delay, he added, "would retard the entire process." But he stopped short of endorsing the idea of threatening repercussions if the schedule should slip.

Throughout the Post interview, Jafari did not sound like a leader who thought U.S. troops were close to coming home. He said three conditions must be met to snuff out the insurgency.

"First of all, the borders must be made very, very secure," he said. "Secondly, Iraqi security forces must be of a caliber to carry out widespread and effective offensives against terrorists, and, thirdly, the judiciary must be activated so that justice" can be carried out. He counseled Americans to remember what happened to Germany after it was ignored by the United States and others after World War I, giving rise to Nazism. "Let's go back and take lessons from history," Jafari said.

[bth: the lack of confidence is in the plan and the leadership, not in the troops in the field. The administration is now going to wrap itself in the flag and assert that any talk of an exit plan would be a betrayal of the troops in the field. The underlying threat from Rove and others is that any discourse of on our policy is unpatriotic. This was evident in Rove's NYC address earlier this week. In the meantime, it is becoming evident that our presence and our open ended commitment is being used by Iraqi politicians to postpone hard compromises between political factions there. Levin is probably right in his assessment. ... The basic problem in the US is a loss of faith and trust with the Administration and the Pentagon, not between the American people and the troops.]

Syrian border guards Posted by Hello

Pentagon Creating Student Database

"The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches.

The program is provoking a furor among privacy advocates. The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying."

The data will be managed by BeNow Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., one of many marketing firms that use computers to analyze large amounts of data to target potential customers based on their personal profiles and habits.

...Privacy advocates said the plan appeared to be an effort to circumvent laws that restrict the government's right to collect or hold citizen information by turning to private firms to do the work.

..."We support the U.S. armed forces, and understand that DoD faces serious challenges in recruiting for the military," a coalition of privacy groups wrote to the Pentagon after notice of the program was published in the Federal Register a month ago. "But . . . the collection of this information is not consistent with the Privacy Act, which was passed by Congress to reduce the government's collection of personal information on Americans."....

Iraq Troops Battle Insurgents in Devastating Escalation News - Latest News - Iraq Troops Battle Insurgents in Devastating Escalation: "American and Iraqi troops battled al-Qaida-linked insurgents holed up in an upscale Baghdad neighbourhood, killing at least five militants apparently waiting to carry out suicide bomb attacks."...

Boy with leg blown off from car bomb, June 23, 2005 Posted by Hello

Major Dively, U2 pilot killed June 22, 2005 Posted by Hello

Chemical Expert Testifies in Jordan Trial

"Islamic militants planned to detonate an explosion that would have sent a cloud of toxic chemicals across Jordan, causing death, blindness and sickness, a chemical expert testified in a military court Wednesday. ..."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Picasso's Guernica on power and submission Posted by Hello

Rove: Dems Just Don't Get Sept. 11 Attacks

"NEW YORK -Speaking in a ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove (search) said the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks (search).

'Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,' Rove said Wednesday night. 'Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.'"...

"No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said.

[bth: The Democratic Party is allowing Karl Rove to frame the 'liberals' as supporting the defeat of America. Democrats have to get a pro-active message out that will defend America and chart a responsible course in Iraq or the party will lose by default.]

Democrat calls for Iraq shift - Americas

"The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, called Wednesday for a major shift in American policy toward Iraq, saying the administration must now hold out the prospect of a major troop withdrawal unless Iraqis meet a self-imposed deadline to agree on a constitution by next February.

Levin outlined the recommendation in an interview a day before Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top American commanders are to appear before the Senate panel to discuss Iraq.

With President George W. Bush acknowledging that the United States still faces a 'long, hard slog in Iraq,' Levin is the latest Democrat to offer his own prescription for a new American approach. But he is highly respected on military issues, and he said that he was seeking Republican support for an idea that he called an option to an 'unacceptable status quo.'

'The United States needs to state to Iraq and the world' that if the February deadline is not met, 'we will review our position with all options open, including, but not limited to, setting a timetable for withdrawal,' Levin said.

But he made clear that he would oppose calls from other Democrats to set a specific withdrawal deadline now.

Among Republicans, Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John McCain of Arizona have been sharply critical in recent days of administration statements on Iraq that they have suggested bear little resemblance to the realities on the ground.

Iraq's interim government has approved a timetable calling for adoption of a constitution by Aug. 15, with the possibility of a single six-month extension. But it has made little progress toward that goal, and Levin said he believed that an American signal 'that we're not there forever' could help... "

[bth: this is an interesting article worth a full read by those interested in a policy for Iraq.]

Blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel

..."The war has reached a tipping point - not in Iraq, but in the US. Every announcement of a 'turning point' heightens the rising tide of public disillusionment. Every reference to September 11 strains the administration's credibility. Every revelation of how 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy' for war, as in the Downing Street memo, shatters even Republicans' previously implacable faith.

On June 21, a Gallup poll reported that Bush's approval rating was collapsing along with support for the war. Only 39% of Americans support it. 'The decline in support for the war is found among Republicans and independents, with little change among Democrats.' (Since March, Republican support has fallen 11 points to 70%.)

'They're starting to talk numbers again,' Pat Lang remarked to me about the return of body counts. Lang is the former chief at the Defence Intelligence Agency for the Middle East, south Asia and counter-terrorism. 'They were determined not to do that. But they can't provide a measurement to tell themselves they're doing well. As you know, it means nothing.'

... The Iraqi elections are 'irrelevant to the outcome of the war because the people who voted were the people who stood to gain'.

Iran is the long-term winner. ...

Bush's Iraq syndrome is a reinvention of Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam syndrome. In December 1967, Walt Rostow, LBJ's national security adviser, famously declared about the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese: "Their casualties are going up at a rate they cannot sustain ... I see light at the end of the tunnel." ...

...Bush's light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel vision can only accelerate the cycle of disillusionment. His instinctive triumphalism inevitably has a counter-productive effect. His refusal to insist on responsibility for blunders - indeed, rewarding and honouring their perpetrators - enshrines impunity and hubris.

His doctrine of presidential infallibility, the election being his only "moment of accountability", can no longer be sustained by reference to September 11. His defence of the abuse and torture of detainees at Guantánamo and other prisons in violation of laws formerly upheld by the US blots out his attempts to explain the purity of his motives. ...

[bth: Blumenthal wrote this and I don't care for him, but I have been struck in the last week by the repeated use of body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This puts that into some perspective.]

Saudi terror suspect said killed in Iraq NewsFlash - Saudi terror suspect said killed in Iraq: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - One of Saudi Arabia's most-wanted suspected terrorists was killed by a U.S. airstrike in northwestern Iraq, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq said, and two car bombs outside Shiite mosques in central Baghdad killed 15 and wounded 28 Thursday, police said."...

The Web statement said Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud was killed in fighting near Qaim, on the border with Syria. It was signed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most notorious terrorist leader in Iraq....

Al-Roshoud had been No. 24 on a list of the 26 most-wanted terrorist leaders put out by Saudi Arabia two years ago and was one of only three militants on the list still at large. He was one of the main theologians for al-Qaida's network in Saudi Arabia, calling for a holy war against the Saudi royal family and Western interests in the Persian Gulf....

Afghans: 102 Taliban Killed in Battle - U.S. & World - Afghans: 102 Taliban Killed in Battle: "KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces surrounded a rebel hide-out in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, and the number of insurgents killed from three days of fighting rose to 102, the defense ministry said.

The battle was one of the deadliest since the Taliban's ouster more than three years ago and was sure to add to growing anxiety that an Iraq-style conflict is developing here.

Two Taliban commanders, Mullah Dadullah (search) and Mullah Brader (search), are believed to be fighting alongside hundreds of rebel holdouts, said Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Marad. Both are well known names in the Taliban rebellion, accused of orchestrating attacks across much of Afghanistan's violence-ridden south.

'A total of 102 Taliban have been killed since the fighting started on Tuesday,' Marad said, 26 more than were reported on Wednesday evening. 'These deaths will have a huge impact on the rebels. Many are trying to flee. But we have them surrounded.'"...

[bth: the war in Afghanistan is not over.]

NPR : Marines in Iraq Lack Basic Equipment to Fight

NPR : Marines in Iraq Lack Basic Equipment to Fight: "Alex Chadwick talks with Bryan Bender, a reporter at The Boston Globe, about his report on a recent internal review conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps that found troops in Iraq are lacking in basic equipment, such as ammunition and vehicle armor."

[bth: Go to this link to listen to an audio file were NPR interviews Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe on marine equipment levels in Iraq.]

NPR : Iraq's Insurgents Turn to Infrared Triggers

NPR : Iraq's Insurgents Turn to Infrared Triggers: "Melissa Block talks with David Cloud, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times about how the Iraqi insurgents are using different technologies for their roadside bombs in Iraq, causing more casualties. He says they now use an infrared detonator to get around the jamming device used against the detonators using radio signals, and the charges are 'shaped' to create a more intensified explosion, better able to penetrate armor."

[bth: Go to this link to download the audio file for this interesting interview. The use of infrared triggers on IEDs will defeat our radio frequency jammers and leave our convoys vulnerable again to direct IED strikes. This is not good news.]

Cheboygan soldier Matt Blaskowski: Afghan fighting different

"LEVERING - Army Staff Sgt. Matt Blaskowski blushes when his mother calls him a hero.

In early May he was shot in his right leg during a fierce firefight in Afghanistan while pulling another injured soldier to safety. Blaskowski is a squad leader within the 173rd Airborne Brigade and said any of his fellow soldiers would have done the same."...

"It's desolate. It's all dust and mountains. You'll drive for hours and hours and not see anything or anyone," he said, adding the country's cave systems are complex and difficult to maneuver through.

Soldiers patrol with local interpreters and police officials, Blaskowski said, speaking to residents about needed infrastructure and services, such as schools, roads and wells for drinking water. The Afghan people seem happy to have U.S. soldiers there, he said.

..."It's also about finding Osama bin Laden," he said. "The Taliban is still very active in some places."
The rough desert terrain impedes travel of military convoys, sometimes taking an hour to travel seven or eight miles. Hostile fire is frequent, but unlike Iraq, it usually does not result in civilian injuries or deaths, Blaskowski said.
He believes in what soldiers are doing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, because he sees their efforts make a difference in the lives of the people. ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Lack of leadership" blamed for delaying Humvee armor

"Two top Marine Corps officers acknowledged yesterday that they waited two months to issue a contract for armor kits to protect the undersides of Humvees after promising to do so earlier this year.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. William Nyland, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and Brig. Gen. William Catto, the chief of Marine Corps Systems Command, attributed the delay to a 'lack of leadership.' They assured the committee that all Humvees and military trucks that the Marines used in Iraq would be adequately protected by December.

...Catto, who has oversight of all Marine Corps equipment issues, took the blame for the delay. 'This is a lack of leadership on my part for not paying more attention to that specific contract,' he said. Nyland also accepted fault but said increased production of armor kits in the United States had made up for the shortfall.

'I acknowledge that we took our eye off the ball on that contract,' he said. 'But we had a parallel course at the same time ... and we have in fact now almost 400 underbodies on the ground for the purposes of installation at the unit level.'

At least 34 Marines have died from so-called-improvised explosive devices in Iraq this year, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks and classifies casualties based on Defense Department news releases. Overall, 155 U.S. military deaths have been attributed to such bombs this year, more than half of U.S. combat fatalities.

The Marines aren't the only military branch that has experienced delays in protecting vehicles. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in April that the Army said all of its 35,000 vehicles in Iraq, including Humvees, had some sort of armor, but 11,700 were protected with nothing more than crudely cut sheets of steel that didn't meet Army standards. The Army is replacing that armor, but the Pentagon said the job wouldn't be done until September.

Hunter said conversations about providing more armor for Marine Humvees began earlier this year, after a Marine sergeant came up with a way of using scrap steel to fashion plates to protect the undersides of Humvees. After initial discussions with Defense Department officials in February went nowhere, Hunter met in April with Nyland, who agreed that steel in Kuwait could be used to produce 650 protective kits, Hunter said. A contract to produce those kits wasn't signed until Monday, however.

Nyland and Catto said technical issues involving the quality of the steel in Kuwait had initially delayed the project and that production of armor kits was stepped up in the United States.

Nyland said efforts were under way to ensure that almost 2,000 Humvees and trucks had the necessary protective armor kits by December.

[bth: the quality of steel issue in Kuwait is a red herring. It is a fake statement. The 2 month delay in placing an order was really a 6 month delay because the sergeant in Iraq couldn't even get people to respond to him until it went to the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. So essentially 34-odd marines died over this? I will say that to Gen. Catto's credit, he acknowledged his 'lack of leadership' which to me is the first time I've heard a general of any branch make a similar statement; that goes for the Sec. of Army, Assist Sec of Defense and Sec. of Defense as well. Thank's Gen. Catto, I don't expect perfection, but honesty goes a long way in the trust department. Let's do better next time.]

1918 Posted by Hello

U.S. General: Iraq Bombers Recruited Online

"...According to Brig. Gen. John Custer, director of intelligence for U.S. Central Command, suicide bombers are 'recruited on the Internet. They hear about the terrible atrocities perpetrated against the Iraqis in Iraq. They want to go and martyr themselves.' "

There have been more than 450 suicide bombings since August. The majority of the bombers are ages 18 to 25 and, with rare exception, male.

Officials say they know of only one suicide bomber who was Iraqi, with the others coming from countries that include Sudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Custer says once interest is shown, an elaborate network run by Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi secretly sends the potential bomber into Iraq.

The would-be suicide bombers, says Custer, are then "hooked up with facilitators, whether in their country or neighboring countries, and flown to a capital — Damascus [Syria] is a place we've seen associated with this."

They then move across the border using false passports, Custer says, and are held in safe houses.

Once in Iraq, according to Custer, they are repeatedly exposed to videos showing civilian casualties of U.S. bombings or the photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The indoctrination continues up until the moment the human bomber is given his suicide vest, bag or vehicle.

Officials say suicide car bombings often involve three vehicles. The first car leads the suicide driver to the target, the second contains the bomb, and in case the driver loses his nerve, a third car follows behind to detonate the vehicles by other means.

"In many cases, we think it's detonated for them," Custer said, "so they don't even know when they are going to die."

If a bombing is successful and then videotaped, it is used to recruit more bombers and raise more money for the cause. Each one of the operations costs thousands of dollars.

Custer is trying to track those who finance the suicide bombers because by the time the attackers get into Iraq, it is often too late to stop them.

[bth: I think the key is to target via assassination or other covert means the financial supporters.]

IED Posted by Hello

Iraqi Rebels Refine Bomb Skills, Pushing Toll of G.I.'s Higher

"American casualties from bomb attacks in Iraq have reached new heights in the last two months as insurgents have begun to deploy devices that leave armored vehicles increasingly vulnerable, according to military records."

Last month there were about 700 attacks against American forces using so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, the highest number since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the American military command in Iraq and a senior Pentagon military official. Attacks on Iraqis also reached unprecedented levels, Lt. Gen. John Vines, a senior American ground commander in Iraq, told reporters on Tuesday.

The surge in attacks, the officials say, has coincided with the appearance of significant advancements in bomb design, including the use of "shaped" charges that concentrate the blast and give it a better chance of penetrating armored vehicles, causing higher casualties.

Another change, a senior military officer said, has been the detonation of explosives by infrared lasers, an innovation aimed at bypassing electronic jammers used to block radio-wave detonators.

I.E.D.'s of all types caused 33 American deaths in May, and there have been at least 35 fatalities so far in June, the highest toll over a two-month period, according to statistics assembled by Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks official figures.

In a sign of heightened American concern, the Army convened a conference last week at Fort Irwin, in the California desert, where engineers, contractors and senior officers grappled with the problems posed by the new bombs. One attendee, Col. Bob Davis, an Army explosives expert, called the new elements in some bombs "pretty disturbing." In a brief interview, he declined to discuss the changes, but said the "sophistication is increasing and it will increase further."

Although the number of bombs using the refinements remains low, their appearance underscores the insurgents' adaptability and the difficulty the Pentagon faces, despite a strong effort, in containing the threat. Improvised explosives now account for about 70 percent of American casualties in Iraq.

...Car bomb attacks against American forces - both suicide attacks and attacks with remotely detonated devices - reached a monthly high of 70 in April and fell slightly in May, according to figures provided by the United States military in Iraq.

"For a period of time we felt we were pushing them away from us, and now it looks like they are back to targeting coalition forces," said a Pentagon official involved in the anti-I.E.D. effort. "And they've learned that in order to attack us, they need to get more sophisticated."

...The insurgents "certainly appear to be surging right now," Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, who leads the anti-I.E.D. task force, said in an interview at Fort Irwin. "Time will tell about their ability to sustain this."

...In addition to technical improvements in their bombs, insurgents, especially in rural areas, are resorting to packing more explosives into the devices to disable armored vehicles, Army experts at the Fort Irwin conference said.

...A senior Marine officer with access to classified reports from the field said that the vehicles involved in the two fatal attacks were armored Humvees but that the bombs "were so big that there was little left of the Humvees that were hit."

Insurgents have long been able to build bombs powerful enough to penetrate some armored vehicles. But the use of "shaped" charges could raise the threat considerably, military officials said. Since last month, at least three such bombs have been found, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing this month.

The shaped charge explosion fires a projectile "at a very rapid rate, sufficient to penetrate certain levels of armor," ...A Pentagon official involved in combating the devices said shaped charges seen so far appeared crude but required considerable expertise, suggesting insurgents were able to draw on well-trained bomb-makers, possibly even rocket scientists from the former government. ...

Infrared detonators are an advance over the more common method of rigging bombs to explode after an insurgent nearby presses a button on a cell phone, a garage-door opener or other device that gives off an electric signal. That approach is vulnerable to jammers, however, and a shift to infrared detonators, which rely on light waves, underscores the insurgents' resourcefulness.

Lt. Jordan Posted by Hello

Ed Koch -- There's only one reason why we should remain in Iraq

"... I believe the time has come for the U.S. to declare victory in Iraq and to exit honorably, having achieved our original goals. We have defeated Saddam Hussein on the battlefield, ending his ability to wage war against his neighbors or against the U.S., either by the use of conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

We also have facilitated the establishment of an interim Iraqi government recognized by the United Nations. That reconstituted government recently held a hotly-contested, democratically-conducted election which produced an independent government that has the power to direct U.S. forces to leave. Instead, it asked the U.S. to stay and use its military personnel against the insurrection and terrorism.

The vast majority of U.N. member states continue to refuse to dedicate troops to assist the new Iraqi government and the U.S. in their efforts to defeat the insurgents and terrorists. The troops raised by the democratically elected Iraqi government currently number 165,000, while the insurgents and terrorists are thought to number between 12,000 and 20,000. ...

The United Nations has authorized American military personnel to remain in Iraq until August 2005, with the expectation that such authorization will be extended. However, the U.N. has not authorized or directed member states to assist the U.S. and Great Britain with military personnel in Iraq itself. This is unacceptable. We should have the assistance of other U.N. members like Germany, France, et. al.

Having accomplished our original goals, we should advise the U.N. and Iraq that we will begin withdrawing our troops in August 2005 and will be out of the country by the end of this year. We should also advise the U.N. that we are prepared to stay in Iraq, provided the Security Council creates a U.N. security force comprised of troops on a proportionate basis from every member of the U.N. Security Council to support the Iraqi Army with boots on the ground beginning in August 2005. It should further direct that U.N. member states will proportionately provide the Iraqi government with monies needed to rebuild the country.

In addition, Iraq's neighbors should also be required to provide troops and funds, whether or not they are members of the Security Council. ...

The American people have been willing to bear their share of blood and money to fight international terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere. Our casualties to date establish our bona fides. However, the American public is not willing to continue that ongoing battle and suffer ever mounting casualties without the aid of those who have also received the benefit of our actions. I support the war in Iraq and the larger war against the Jihadists who use terrorism around the world to achieve their goals. But I do not believe that we should remain in Iraq unless others who have a responsibility to do so step up and contribute their fair share to the war effort.

[bth: interesting perspective that I need to think about.]

IED detonation site, evidently a drain. Posted by Hello

Humvee hit by IED April 04 Posted by Hello

Lie tests clear Allawi

"LIE detector tests have shown that allegations of murder against Iraq's former interim leader, Iyad Allawi, were most likely false."...

Recruitment poster for suicide bombers? Posted by Hello